Saturday, March 28, 2009

Healthful Dinner Menu

I tried out some new recipes on Ben and a couple of our friends this week and they turned out surprisingly well!

I am always a little nervous to try out new things when we have people over, but thankfully it all turned out a lot better than I had anticipated!

The menu was:

Herb Roasted Pork Loin
Potatoes and Green Beans
Chocolate Cake

I chose the pork tenderloin because it is a rather inexpensive piece of meat and can feed at least four people, depending on the size you get. I also discovered that it is a relatively lean cut of meat (as lean as a chicken breast) and offers a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin and other nutrients! Who knew! I always equated pork with fat!

You can get the recipe I used here
This recipe also includes a sauce, which I forgot to make, but I just used the juices that had pooled in the pan after cooking the pork loin as our sauce and it was excellent!
I also used a 2 lb. pork loin instead of the 4lb. one in the recipe. It is great for having people over or to feed your hungry husband!

I also made Mashed Potatoes by boiling 4 sliced up potatoes in water for about 15 minutes with 3 cloves of garlic. I added 1/3 cup of olive oil and mashed them up to make a healthier version of mashed potatoes. I then boiled some fresh, trimmed green beans in the left over water for 8 minutes and then mixed them in with the mashed potatoes and sprinkled them with salt.

And my FAVORITE thing I made was the chocolate cake. It had absolutely no butter or oil in it and was one of the moistest cakes I have ever made! I made some slight adaptions on it from a recipe I found online.

For cake:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa or dark chocolate cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (reduced fat)
4 oz. jar baby food carrot puree
4 oz. jar baby food prune puree
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1-1 oz. square semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
raspberry fruit preserves (i used sugar-free)
chocolate glaze or nonfat hot fudge

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, carrot and prune purees, vanilla extract, molasses, coffee, egg and egg white. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and combine until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and the chocolate chips. Pour batter into a sprayed and floured 9" cake pan and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes. test with a toothpick to make sure its done.

Let cool on rack. Cut cake in half horizontally and spread fruit preserves on the bottom layer. Replace the top and spread top and sides with chocolate glaze.

I made the chocolate glaze by heating 6 TBSP of whipping cream in a saucepan to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add 8-10 oz of dark chocolate chips, stir until smooth.

Its really, really good!! Seriously, Ben still loved it after I even told him it had baby food in it :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

because I want to brag on my husband

Ok, so sorry for leaving some of you in suspense on what this sideways wardrobe looks like.

The reality was that I was not trying to be a tease, I was just too darn lazy at the time I was writing my last post to go take a picture of the "wardrobe" and to upload it on the computer.

But wait no longer, here it is :)

isn't it amazing?! that front part there used to be a door!

ben cut it in half (well a little more than half) and made one part a cabinet door and the windows are cubby holes with shelves!

I wanted to get a picture of the decorative shelf brackets we used from hobby lobby- fun addition!

it is lying on a tarp right now in the middle of our living room waiting to be painted!

the original plan was to use it in our bedroom as a dresser...but that thing is huge. and heavy. don't let the pictures deceive you. it took four grown men to haul that thing up three flights of stairs and they were all sweating and grunting by the time it was over.
and it is quite long. so it would have been a hard angle to fit into our bedroom, and honestly may have even been impossible. SO we improvised and decided it would be a great living room addition- in fact, we are just going to paint it on the tarp in the living room so that all we have to do when its finished drying is scoot it back against the wall.

the poor guys who have to move us to our next duty station--we will have to feed them lots of pizza.

but anyway, we think it will make a great little shelf-thing in the living room and our living room needed something against that wall anyway!

So it will no longer be the wardrobe, but we may still call it that for the little girl's sake who thinks it could take her to narnia (she watched us build it).

on another note, I have to brag on my husband once more...

there is a guy named bruce at our church and ben says that next to me, he may be his new favorite person. he and his wife are from nawlans (new orleans) and are hilarious. he thinks ben is going to be president some day. anyway, he and ben were talking yesterday and bruce told him, "listen, you need to go get yo woman some flowers and tell her that you love her and that she's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, you know what i'm sayin?"

well he probably didn't know that ben is already incredible at doing all of those things, but it did remind ben that he wanted to go get me some flowers, so this morning i was surpised with these!

hydrangeas and tulips! aren't they beautiful?! the tulips haven't quite bloomed yet, but that just means we will get to enjoy them longer. he is so sweet to me:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Sideways Wardrobe

Its finally here!!

Ben and I have been working on a dream of ours for almost three months...well actually it has been sitting dormant for the better part of three months, but the good news is we are finally finished!

In August, during our first week in Pensacola, my mom and I discovered a nearby flea market and decided to bring home some little goodies for our new apartment.

Mind you at that time we only had a laptop, two lawn chairs and an air matress in our apartment. So of course, we came home with the two most practical items in the store: a lamp without a shade and an old door.

Ben was so confused. I mean the lamp was ok, that was acceptable, but a door? what are we going to do with a door?

and I said, I don't know, its pretty! I am going to decorate with it.

Well, Ben just couldn't wrap his head around this and had to make something useful out of it. So the door sat, leaning against our wall for 5 months, while thoughts brewed in his mind about how he could get some use out of this thing.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking-- should I paint it green? or red? ooo or maybe navy blue!

5 months later my genius and very creative husband worked out a fantastic and extremely useful plan for our door!

And it turned out wonderfully and is FINALLY sitting in our living room, ready and waiting to be painted!

I can't wait to show you all! I am so proud of him!!

Pictures to come soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Babies

Well, we don't have children yet...and we can't have pets in our apartment, so we have plants!!

After careful consideration and deliberation, Ben and I decided to invest in some little veggie and herb plants.

They are affectionately called, our babies. We care for them, and water them and encourage them to grow into good, strong little jalapeno, cayenne, bell and banana pepper plants.

our pot of bell pepper hopefuls.

we also have a cilantro plant, for making salsa, and oregano plant for italian dishes!

aren't they pretty?

we are so proud!

we transplanted them from their baby pots and put them in big boy pots today!

hopefully it turns out to be a good investment and we will get a nice harvest of peppers, bell peppers and herbs!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cam and Linden are here!!

Cam and Linden (Ben's younger brother and sister) graced us with a visit for their Spring Breaks!

We are currently eating homeade pizza, which Cam and Ben helped me make, and Ben is trying to take a nap, while Cam and Linden try to pester him.

Sounds like sibling love, doesn't it?

We are enjoying their visit- they will be here thru Thursday. The weather has been pretty dreary for the past couple of days, but we are hoping to go to the beach in the next few days, to enjoy the beautiful Florida spring!

Linden is also going to teach me how to embroider! We got all our supplies today, so even if the rain keeps us in we should have plenty of "indoor activities" to keep us busy :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Falafel Wafel

Falafel is one of those crazy sounding, hippy vegan words that most people ignore if they see it on a restaurant menu. But its really not as foreign as it sounds, and its not one of those fake burgers or anything like that. Falafel is comprised primarily of chickpeas, or garbanzo beans if you're into the espanol. Its something I have always been interested in trying as a lot of people use it as a meat alternative in meals, but usually I avoid it because its deep fried and I'm just not into that frying business. Besides, if you're trying to be healthier (which I would think a person eating vegitarian usually would be), I think the deep friedness might counter that a little bit. But anyway, that aside, the other day I saw a lady making falafel patties by lightly pan frying them, so I had to try it!

Ben and I both loved it! Seriously, I'm making it again this week.

Here is the recipe I used. You have to kind of prepare in advance for it, as the beans need to soak overnight (unless you opt to use canned- just make sure you pat dry the beans before hand though) I think you can be pretty liberal with it and spice it up as you choose. You can't really go wrong with it.

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper ( I used a jalapeno too...super hot!!)
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying ( i used olive oil)
Chopped tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Diced green bell pepper for garnish

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and let them soak overnight in water and about 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (the acid activates more of the nutrients in the beans...aka their better for you!)

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas in a blender or food processor along with the onions, add all other spices and herbs. Process until blended, but not pureed. Add the baking powder and four TBSP flour. Add enough flour to make the ingredients all stick together well enough to form patties. Put in bowl and refrigerate for several hours. Heat up a skillet on med/med-high heat. coat pan in a thin layer of olive oil and form chickpea mixture into patties. Pan fry a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve with Pita bread, a cucumber or dill sauce, tahini, veggies, whatever you like!

We made a simple dill sauce using: sour cream, lots of dill weed, salt, pepper and garlic. It was yummy!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Maria Sharapovia Carter Awesomeness

This is me and B playing tennis. Hardcore right?
Ok, so maybe its just a couple of really fuzzy images I found online, but at least it represents B and I.
We have picked up tennis in our abundant free time and are loving it! We are the perfect competition for each other, as neither of us has had much experience in the game.
So far we are 1 and 1.
We are both pretty competitive so sometimes we have to check our attitudes (we both have that older child syndrome where if we don't win, we don't like the game anymore). But competition aside, its mostly just fun to be active together.
I highly recommend finding a sport that you and your hubby (or future hubby) can do together- it is good to have things in common to enjoy together.
On another note, there is this thing called swag bucks. Its a search engine that you can get free things on, just by searching! I am totally copying Amy Grimme, but why not. So go to this link, and you can start your swagbuck, free "money" making search party AND by clicking on the link, you can help B and I get swag bucks too.
Come on, you know you want to help B get that Star Wars collectible action figure or GI Joe comic book.
Thats what I thought :)
so click on it! You've got nothing to lose!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

All Mine :)

So as many of you may already know, B finished his first stint of training here in Pensacola. After being "drowned proofed" as they call it, being drug thru the dirt, and enduring countless hours of studying- he is graduated!!

So what does life look like right now? What comes next?

Well, for right now, we wait. And that means that I get B all to myself for the next few weeks, and maybe even months!

We are loving this time in life where he has no obligations when training is not going on. And with the way they train here, he definitely deserves his time off when the opportunity arises.

So, I am readjusting to having my best friend at home with me all the time, and he is adjusting to not having to study all day and night (I think he'll get over it).

I think normally there is not usually such a wait in between training, but they are a little backed up right now so we may have to wait a little longer for his next training to start-- we're definitely not complaining!

Right now we are involved in a study on the Pursuit of Holiness with our small group in church. It has been a really great study so far and has really opened our eyes to the importance of viewing our God as holy, and our responsibility and calling to live as holy.

I am also studying a book by Kay Arthur with a few girls from church--it has been really great to have some women my age to open up to here in P'cola.

B and I are also learning to budget our money better so that we may save more and also give more generously to people. I have been making homeade bread, granola bars, whipped cream, pita bread, and a few other homeade things to see how those will offset some of our regular grocery costs. (yes whipped cream is a part of our regular diet, and I know its not the most nutritious of our foods, but hey, its my one food vice, ok?)

As I find more budget friendly nutritious recipes, I will post them!

OH and probably the best thing in the world happened to the West side of Pensacola (where we live). We live in the woods over here. We are definitely close to the base, but all we have near us is a Super Walmart. And though, I have never been a big walmart shopper, it has now become our all in all (in the shopping sense). Groceries, paint, electrics, garden, school supplies, you name it- we get it all at Walmart. If we need to go just about anywhere else, it takes us around 30-45 minutes to get there.

But since we have lived here, we have been constantly teased by the buidling up of a Target, right across the street from Walmart! Praise Jesus!! But it has taken FOREVER to open. In November, it looked like it would be open in just a few weeks. But everytime we went by it we were so disappointed to see that it was not open yet. Well, we finally got word a few weeks ago that it would be opening in March! The day after it opened we graced its doors and spent at least an hour perusing all the aisles, looking at clothes, household items, furniture, and even groceries. Oh, AND it has a starbucks inside- seriously, Praise Jesus!

I know you are thinking this is no big deal, but really, when all you have is Walmart and the nearest off base starbucks is 45 minutes away, this is something to get excited about! Needless to say, we had a party in Target all weekend long, celebrating its long awaited arrival and getting some good deals on their opening weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2009


For those of you interested, I made a slideshow of our apartment over to the right hand side of the screen. Some were taken a while back and some were taken recently, but I figured I would put them up for you guys to get a better idea of what our little home looks like. I think you can click on the slideshow and it will take you to our Picasa web album of them.

Much love!

Jacki and Anna

B and I got to spend 4 days with two of my oldest and sweetest friends, Jacki and Anna.

They are both about to start their "big girl" jobs and indulged me in one last hoorah before

entering the "real world."

The weather was a little on the cool side, but with the sun out, it was perfect for spending some good QT on the beach.

Anna made sand angels.

Jacki ate rice

Ben, Anna, and I made a sand castle...

...and Jacki demolished it.

we made our daily trips to starbucks, of course and had a casi cielo french press...mmmm good

and took b out to dinner for a graduation celebration at an excellent tapas restaurant in town. (YAY B!!! He finished round one of training!!)

I love these girls and am so blessed that they came to see us! It really has been such a wonderful thing to share our lives here with so many people over the past several months. We feel very loved!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dad and Mom were here

We miss them!

Mom and Dad came to visit for the weekend. It was so fun to have them here! It felt so normal. I am not going to pretend that I didn't cry yesterday when I dropped them off in the airport. Of course, that was after Mom had left her wallet downstairs at the checkin counter, and had to go racing back through the airport as they were about to board. For the weekend, I felt like they just fit right in here, in our little home in Pensacola.
It was just so fun to show them what our lives look like here.
B is actually finishing up his last two days of training this week, so the entire weekend was very relaxing and he didn't have to worry about work or studying while they were here.

We took them to the beach in Destin one day- it was beautiful, but way too cold to get in the water. A cold front actually came in while they were here so we were bundling up for the last couple of days during their trip.

look at those lovebirds...i caught them being sweet to each other :)

the fam minus austin :(

my Dad had a glowing orange shirt to make sure we didn't lose him!

This is a picture of the curtains I made...they are a little different, but I think we have decided that we like them :)

We bought a fun chair to match that ties it all in.

On another note, yesterday I hit B in the face. Right under his eye! It was an accident ( I was not trying to be abusive) but we actually thought for a while that his sinus might have been broken, it was sticking out pretty badly.
We watched superman though and iced it well and I think that cured him. Wouldn't that have been terrible if I had given him a broken face?!